New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Boris Johnson’s wine and cheese meeting was not a party, says deputy PM

According to the deputy PM, Boris Johnson's wine and cheese gathering was not a party

Key takeaways:

  • On Monday, Boris Johnson’s deputy issued the latest in a string of denials that the prime minister had violated the lockdown rules.
  • According to Raab, Carrie, Johnson’s partner, had come down from her Downing Street flat to spend time with him.

After a photograph surfaced of him and more than a dozen others drinking wine in the garden of his Downing Street residence, Boris Johnson’s deputy issued the latest in a series of denials on Monday that the prime minister had broken lockdown rules.

The photo of the gathering, reportedly taken in May of last year, comes after reports of other alleged social gatherings when his government had advised Britons not to mix with strangers.

As ministers consider new restrictions to control a surge in COVID-19 cases, growing public anger at the rallies has raised doubts about Johnson’s authority within his Conservative Party. In a by-election previous week, the party lost a long-held parliamentary seat.

Also read: N.B. reported 108 fresh cases, including at least 30 Omicron cases

The photo, published late Sunday by the Guardian newspaper, shows Johnson with his partner Carrie, who appears to be holding their newborn son, and two other people at a table with cheese and wine on a terrace in the Downing Street garden.

Another table of four people is nearby, and a larger group of people standing on the grass around a table with bottles of wine is a short distance away. The government had told the public at the time that they could only meet one person in an outdoor public place and that they should keep two meters apart.

“That garden is a place of work for Downing Street,” Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Times Radio. “That isn’t a violation of the rules.”

“It was clear that it wasn’t a social gathering,” Raab said, adding that “you had people in work suits, following meetings that they were having at work.”

The opposition Labour Party seized on the photograph, claiming it was more proof that Johnson and his team were not serious about their restrictions on others.

“Is there a business meeting going on there? Is it a social gathering? And I believe the answer is self-evident, “Keir Starmer, the Labour Party’s leader, told reporters.

“There were funerals of people during that period where only a few people could go and mourn those who had tragically died… that’s the contrast.”

Raab’s defense was slammed almost immediately.

According to the deputy PM, Boris Johnson's wine and cheese gathering was not a party.
According to the deputy PM, Boris Johnson’s wine and cheese gathering was not a party. Image from Reuters

“He and the Prime Minister are laughing at us, aren’t they?” said Bill Esterson, a Labour lawmaker and spokesman.

Since a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown, when such festivities were banned, Johnson has faced a barrage of criticism.

Raab stated that the most recent photograph was taken on a day when the government had just held a press conference and that after a long day, staff would sometimes have a drink in the garden.

According to Raab, Carrie, Johnson’s partner, had come down from her Downing Street flat to spend time with him.

Aside from the outrage over alleged political parties, Johnson is dealing with a rebellion within his party over the direction of his government, which critics say is chaotic and has dramatically expanded the state’s power.

David Frost, a Brexit minister, resigned on Saturday after becoming disillusioned with the government’s direction. On Monday, he spoke to reporters about his opposition to “coercive policies” on COVID.

Source: CTV News

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